Chicago (CBS) — A proposal to arm Illinois teachers with guns failed Saturday. Supporters of the move say it could keep students safe from school violence, but opponents say there has to be another way.
“I would never in my life carry a weapon into our school system,” Anthony Vincent Clark, an Oak Park and River Forest teacher, said.
The proposal would give school districts the option to allow highly trained teachers and staff to carry guns into schools.
But, there were nearly as many in favor of the idea of arming teachers or at least in favor of the measure so districts can make the decision themselves. This was especially true for school representatives from downstate and rural districts.
“I’m familiar with a number of these districts, and it is a 30 minute response time,” Dan Walter of the Peoria School District said. “School shootings take an average of 12 minutes. There’s no way a resource officer could get there.”
After 17 people died in the Parkland school shooting in Florida earlier this year, the state senate passed a bill that allows teachers to carry guns in classrooms there – an idea President Trump has openly supported. Some other states already allow it, but there’s no proof it decreases school shootings.
“We have no data, no research to support that this would be effective,” said Elizabeth Garlovsky of Township High School District 113. “I absolutely think we need to find some other solutions.”
Those who voted against the proposal say they’d like to see school security improved in other ways, such as more secure entrances, metal detectors and professional security staff.
“Your job as a teacher, as an administrator is to educate kids,” Steve Paredes, a Flossmoor teacher, said. “It is not your role to suddenly be a law enforcement person.”
This vote does not affect any possible legislation proposed in the future. It simply means the Illinois Association of School Boards will not support any legislation allowing teachers to carry guns.